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View Full Version : Relocating a squirrel = death sentence? (for the squirrel)


Jimmy Joe Meager
01-25-2009, 03:54 PM
Would live-trapping and relocating a squirrel, right now, likely cause said squirrel to freeze or starve to death?

About two days ago a squirrel became a nuisance around my home (the reason why is below, but isnít really part of my question). For a number of good reasons, simply dispatching him to squirrel heaven (quickly and humanely) isnít an option. So my idea is to buy a live trap, catch him, drive 20+ miles away, and release him.

However, someone pointed out that here, locally around my house, he might have a nest and food stores. Relocating him would mean heíd likely freeze or starve to death, which would be less humane than just shooting him in the first place.

So thatís my question. For the reasons mentioned (or other reasons, please let me know), would relocating him right now likely cause his death? I live in central Maryland.

(Would the location he was relocated to make a difference? Maybe a housing development that borders on woods, like mine? My thought wasÖ if heís surviving here, the same environment (but far away from here) might also work.)

Thanks.

(The Reason Why Ė I have a bird feeder on my deck, which is off the second floor of a townhouse. There are no stairs to the ground level, neither on mine nor the other second story decks on this row of townhouses, but of course there are posts in the ground holding it up. Iíve had the birdfeeder out there for almost a year. The squirrels hadnít discovered it, until this past Thursday or Friday. One did. Iím pretty sure its just one. Iíve been watching it this weekend, and Iím pretty sure itís just the one. Iíd rather not have to squirrel-proof the feeder, but neither do I really want to kill the squirrel. Which is why I askÖ would relocating it likely be killing it?)

pkbites
01-25-2009, 04:11 PM
So my idea is to buy a live trap, catch him, drive 20+ miles away, and release him.

Yeah, good luck with that.:rolleyes:

Everyone I know, including myself, who tried to use those "have a heart" traps found that while trying to release the little bastards they tend to bite and scratch and are overall freaking out like crazy in the cage. It's not as easy as the trap maker says it is.

And I can assure you, you have or will have more than one to contend with. Squirrels leave a scent in an area of shelter or food that tells other squirrels it's an ok place to come to. That, combined with the bird feeder is a beacon for a zillion squirrels to show up. Seeing they've finally discovered it, you may have to go to a squirrel proof feeder or get rid of it entirely.

I won't debate the issue, but when I had problems with them I dispatched them humanly and in a legal manner. Theres no guilt to be had in killing a freaking rat with a bushy tale. But that's just me.

Xema
01-25-2009, 04:54 PM
You will probably reduce the squirrel's chance of surviving the winter, by an amount that's difficult to quantify (depends, among other things, on the food resources in the area where you dump him, and the number of squirrels already there).

As pkbites notes, it may be a bit naive to think that this will eliminate your problem. Another squirrel will move in, and may soon figure out the bird feeder.

Critical Mass
01-25-2009, 08:43 PM
With a slight ideological adjustment, you might be on the cusp of a new fad.

Apparently, the little critters are tasty eating. For some.

NY Times story (http://nytimes.com/2009/01/07/dining/07squirrel.html?_r=1&ref=dining)

While some have difficulty with the cuteness versus deliciousness ratio ó that adorable little face, those itty-bitty claws ó many feel that eating squirrel is a way to do something good for the environment while enjoying a unique gastronomical experience.

:)

Mangetout
01-25-2009, 08:49 PM
On a par with rabbit, I'd say. Worthwhile if you can economically catch enough.

pkbites
01-25-2009, 08:52 PM
With a slight ideological adjustment, you might be on the cusp of a new fad.

Not really. People have been hunting/eating squirrel forever. My Dad had to do it during the depression if he wanted anything to eat.

Not me, though. Blech! It's a rat! A rat with a bushy tail, but still a rat! I'm not a fussy eater, but I'll starve to death before I eat a rat! Yuck!

DrDeth
01-25-2009, 09:20 PM
In the winter, yes, it's going to be rather rough on the squirrel.:(

You can also put of food for the squirrel, they make some very amusing things for squirrels and cornonthecob, for example.

Why not be nice to him until the spring?

Musicat
01-25-2009, 09:21 PM
Not me, though. Blech! It's a rat! A rat with a bushy tail, but still a rat! I'm not a fussy eater, but I'll starve to death before I eat a rat! Yuck!Would you eat a bird? A bird is just a large rat with feathers. Ecch! Turkey for dinner!

And if you relocate the squirrel, he may come back -- the homing instinct is strong. Try relocating to another continent to be sure.

ExTank
01-25-2009, 10:29 PM
Not really. People have been hunting/eating squirrel forever. My Dad had to do it during the depression if he wanted anything to eat.

Not me, though. Blech! It's a rat! A rat with a bushy tail, but still a rat! I'm not a fussy eater, but I'll starve to death before I eat a rat! Yuck!

Hey, it might taste like pumpkin pie. :p

I bet that if you went 72 hours without food, you'd eat a rat right out of the sewer.

Xema
01-25-2009, 10:35 PM
Here's a YouTube video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=l3Ya6z-NlDo&NR=1) of an interesting squirrel "relocating" device.

Mama Zappa
01-25-2009, 10:48 PM
...
(The Reason Why Ė I have a bird feeder on my deck, which is off the second floor of a townhouse. There are no stairs to the ground level, neither on mine nor the other second story decks on this row of townhouses, but of course there are posts in the ground holding it up. Iíve had the birdfeeder out there for almost a year. The squirrels hadnít discovered it, until this past Thursday or Friday. One did. Iím pretty sure its just one. Iíve been watching it this weekend, and Iím pretty sure itís just the one. Iíd rather not have to squirrel-proof the feeder, but neither do I really want to kill the squirrel. Which is why I askÖ would relocating it likely be killing it?)
Can't comment on the effect of relocating the squirrel(s) - but one other alternative is to use a hot-pepper-laced feed. One link. (http://bird-birding.ca/squirrelproof-wild-bird-seed.html)

Apparently the squirrels can taste the hot stuff, and the birds cannot. Our seed feeder is squirrel-proof (they do get the spillage, which I don't mind) but we also have suet feeders - which the squirrels would empty out in 24 hours. Switching to a hot-pepper suet fixed that.

Well, until this year with the acorn shortage. The squirrels were so hungry they developed a taste for the stuff. I wound up buying corn to put out for them, which has helped somewhat.

askeptic
01-25-2009, 10:50 PM
I don't know about squirrels leaving scent markings to attract other squirrels because they are definitely territorial. As long as your squirrel is around he will keep others away. If you kill it or relocate it another squirrel will show up pretty quickly. The best bet is to get a squirrel proof bird feeder.

As far as eating them being a new fad, maybe so in yankee land but in Alabama they have been eating them for a long long time. I moved to California years ago and now prefer to hug them but my cousins go squirrel hunting regularly and they sure don't do it to mount them on the wall...

HMS Irruncible
01-25-2009, 10:58 PM
My favorite squirrel disposal method: Large Rubbermaid garbage can, filled 2/3 full of water, covered with enough leaves that there is a dry-looking layer of leaves on top. For some reasons the little suckers are convinced there is something worth having in there, and they jump in and drown. Discovered it quite by accident.

MizTina
01-25-2009, 11:19 PM
Here's a YouTube video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=l3Ya6z-NlDo&NR=1) of an interesting squirrel "relocating" device.

Jeez, that's flipping awful!:eek: Damn, if those people don't like squirrels, they should have the common decency to kill them quickly and humanely, not use that horrible catapult.

Bolt the Nut
01-25-2009, 11:28 PM
Hello Jimmy. You are to be commended for not wanting to unnecessarily kill the squirrel. Squirrels and birds can coexist at the same feeder. I am not sure what bird feed you are currently using, but if you have some sunflower seeds in the mixture that should satisfy the squirrel. What will typically happen is the squirrel will come to the feeder and clean out the sunflower seeds, and then the birds will come and eat the smaller remaining seeds. You could also try setting up an easily accessible feeder with just sunflower seeds Ė the squirrel will lose interest in the other feeder very quickly. Also, in-shell peanuts (unsalted!) are popular. If you are patient, you can even get a squirrel to take it out of your hand once it gets used to you. Birds are certainly nice, but a squirrel can be a welcome addition to your ďwildlife experienceĒ.

Colibri
01-25-2009, 11:33 PM
Not me, though. Blech! It's a rat! A rat with a bushy tail, but still a rat! I'm not a fussy eater, but I'll starve to death before I eat a rat! Yuck!

Speaking from personal experience, squirrel is much better tasting than rat.

Squirrel tastes like rabbit.

Rat tastes like rat.

Really Not All That Bright
01-25-2009, 11:51 PM
Maybe you could just eat the birds, and keep the squirrel.

SmackFu
01-26-2009, 12:33 AM
Everyone I know, including myself, who tried to use those "have a heart" traps found that while trying to release the little bastards they tend to bite and scratch and are overall freaking out like crazy in the cage. It's not as easy as the trap maker says it is.

Yeah, I agree. My dad used this tactic for a while and relocated the squirrels into one of our local parks. That handle is pretty damn close to the freaking-out squirrel. I think he used heavy leather gloves, and tied a string on to do the final release. Not really worth the effort, but it did seem to cut down on the number of squirrels.

Hilariously, his new problem is fat grey doves that sit on the feeder and keep away the songbirds.

wolf_meister
01-26-2009, 03:56 AM
I believe this was a topic right about the time I joined the SDMB.
For one thing, make certain about the laws in your state. Most certainly, some states have laws against killing them, relocating them, etc.
Basically, I'd say (speaking hypothetically as I did in the original topic), killing them is the only solution.
Relocating them causes a bunch of problems. They are on new turf and might find tracking down food is too difficult or as someone else said they are territorial and will not like a new kid in the neighborhood. The chances are that the squirrel will try to find its way back home. Pursuing that return route could be harmful if not fatal (lack of food, hit by cars, etc). If the squirrel miraculously survives and gets back home .... well you're right back at the start of the whole problem. :smack:

cordylus
01-26-2009, 09:20 AM
There will always be another squirrel. You could kill one every day for a year and you still wouldn't get them all. I've talked to a lot of people who have had success with the pepper sprays for seed. They're usually a mixture of peppermint oil and cayenne. Birds can't taste it but the squirrels hate it.

Depending on how you have your feeder mounted you might be able to use a simple baffle. If you describe your setup I can make some suggestions. A baffle is useless if you have any nearby trees that they can leap from. If you want to feed them you could try putting out plain shell corn at ground level. Shell corn is cheap but it will attract more squirrels and may be illegal in areas with a rat problem.

Consider this. If you're in any sort of urban or suburban setting (or anywhere near a farm or barn) those tree rats are filling a niche that could be occupied by real rats. You can't put out tasty food without attracting the attention of all the local critters even the less desirable ones.

Elendil's Heir
01-26-2009, 09:45 AM
Here's a YouTube video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=l3Ya6z-NlDo&NR=1) of an interesting squirrel "relocating" device.


Sic semper squirrelenius!

pkbites
01-26-2009, 11:08 AM
I don't know about squirrels leaving scent markings to attract other squirrels because they are definitely territorial

I was told about squirrels leaving a pheromone scent by both an exterminator and a DNR warden. This was a few years ago. If I remember right the scent is left to attract their "kin" and not other squirrels.

It must work. When we got squirrels in our attic I almost went bananas trying to get the fudgers out. Fixing the way they got in had to eventually be done with aluminum rather than the original wood as they kept gnawing threw the wood to get in! For months I was running around the house like Bill Murray in Caddyshack with those stupid "have-a-heart" traps. Living in the city I couldn't pop them off with a .22, but I was sure tempted!!!!

Qadgop the Mercotan
01-26-2009, 11:09 AM
Speaking from personal experience, squirrel is much better tasting than rat.

Squirrel tastes like rabbit.

Rat tastes like rat.
That's why rat should never be served without ketchup.

NurseCarmen
01-26-2009, 11:13 AM
With so many posts regarding eating squirrel, I feel I must inject the master. (https://academicpursuits.us/columns/read/15/how-do-you-clean-and-cook-a-squirrel)

DrDeth
01-26-2009, 11:24 AM
.
Basically, I'd say (speaking hypothetically as I did in the original topic), killing them is the only solution.
:

Umm, no. Feeding the squirrel also is a fine solution. They are fun to watch also.

Omegaman
01-26-2009, 11:25 AM
Speaking from personal experience, squirrel is much better tasting than rat.

Squirrel tastes like rabbit.

Rat tastes like rat.

Thanks Colibri. Now I'm dying to know what rat tastes like.

Xema
01-26-2009, 12:00 PM
if those people don't like squirrels, they should have the common decency to kill them quickly and humanely, not use that horrible catapult.
I don't think that flinging squirrels through the air hurts them. I've seen squirrels fall to the ground from a height of 50' or so and immediately scamper away at high speed.

Mk VII
01-26-2009, 12:35 PM
For anyone thinking of making 'too difficult' for the squirrels to reach the feeder, squirrels are pretty good at this kind of problem solving http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=aY9GBl7UmVs (originally a nature programme which got used for a commercial).
If you dump the squirrel down in some other squirrel's territory, the local guy is going to tell him to take a hike. If there isn't a local squirrel, there's probably a good reason why.
Here, at any rate, it's illegal to release squirrels once you've trapped them.

Sailboat
01-26-2009, 12:46 PM
Never had a problem with any live trap, especially the Havahart brand. Just drape an opaque plastic trash bag over the trap to block the inhabitant's view, transport to new site, then open the door (leaving the bag in place) and back away. Animal wanders out and you come back from coffee or lunch and retrieve trap and bag.

I'm not sure why trapping and relocating, or killing, is easier than squirrel-proofing.

Generally, the squirrels are trapped in a land that we deforested and paved over, trying to scratch out a living just like the rest of us. Those of you thinking of them as "trash" animals might have had poor or immigrant ancestors yourselves, once considered "trash" just for trying to get by.

BarnOwl
01-26-2009, 02:13 PM
For anyone thinking of making 'too difficult' for the squirrels to reach the feeder, squirrels are pretty good at this kind of problem solving http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=aY9GBl7UmVs (originally a nature programme which got used for a commercial).
If you dump the squirrel down in some other squirrel's territory, the local guy is going to tell him to take a hike. If there isn't a local squirrel, there's probably a good reason why.
Here, at any rate, it's illegal to release squirrels once you've trapped them.

Same here, gov, in the Colony of Connecticut.

Jimmy Joe Meager
01-26-2009, 02:22 PM
Thank you all for your input. In any case... it is done. Ran home at lunch, found a trap full of squirrel, and dropped him off in a substantial patch of woods back near work (about 7 miles away).

Like I said, the feeder was in place for almost a year before this one found it. I'd find that acceptable as a mean time between squirrels.

Fare thee well, bushy tailed one.

OtakuLoki
01-26-2009, 02:28 PM
Here, at any rate, it's illegal to release squirrels once you've trapped them.

This is also true in NYS. I'd recommend that the OP contact animal control in his area, to find out whether catch and release is legal in his jurisdiction.

sqweels
01-26-2009, 02:59 PM
That's why rat should never be served without ketchup.
And a fine Thunderbird '09.

DrDeth
01-26-2009, 03:07 PM
And a fine Thunderbird '09.

MD20/20 goes better with squirrel, however.;)

askeptic
01-26-2009, 03:23 PM
Thank you all for your input. In any case... it is done. Ran home at lunch, found a trap full of squirrel, and dropped him off in a substantial patch of woods back near work (about 7 miles away).

Like I said, the feeder was in place for almost a year before this one found it. I'd find that acceptable as a mean time between squirrels.

Fare thee well, bushy tailed one.



Just out of curiosity, would you mind letting us know if another squirrel moves into the now vacant territory? I told my dad not to bother relocating his problem squirrels do to the territoriality issue. I am curious to find out how full of shitr I may be...

What Exit?
01-26-2009, 03:44 PM
Everyone I know, including myself, who tried to use those "have a heart" traps found that while trying to release the little bastards they tend to bite and scratch and are overall freaking out like crazy in the cage. It's not as easy as the trap maker says it is.
Meet someone that twice had no problems. I caught over a dozen groundhogs a few years ago and along the way I caught 2 squirrels, and opossum, a baby raccoon and an adult. I had no problems with any of the animals except for the adult raccoon.

In all cases I wore heavy work gloves and stayed careful.

The squirrels were cute and fearful. I used the metal stake that anchors the cage into the ground to hold the animals to the far end of the cage as I release the front clip. The squirrels and groundhogs and the baby raccoon were simple. The opossum was a noisy little bugger and required some extra precautions. I stood the cage upright and used some extra sticks to isolate him to the bottom. Then I used a rake to push the open cage back down so he could escape.

The adult raccoon scared the heck out of me and I nearly called animal control and I probably should have. He tore the sheet metal up on the top of the trap near the handle. He ripped the small chain off the hook. He was snarling like something demonic. It used extreme caution, unclipped the trapped and ran letting him figure out the rest. He did very quickly. :D

Anyway the squirrels were easy and they were released where they were trapped. The groundhogs were not much harder and that was after driving them before release.

pulykamell
01-26-2009, 04:01 PM
Meet someone that twice had no problems. I caught over a dozen groundhogs a few years ago and along the way I caught 2 squirrels, and opossum, a baby raccoon and an adult. I had no problems with any of the animals except for the adult raccoon.

My dad made a homemade squirrel trap, and had no problems with transporting and releasing the squirrels (he must have done it at least thirty or forty times). I always thought it was a bit of a fool's errand, given there are about 74 million squirrels in the neighborhood, but the neighbors seemed to encourage his hobby, and he seemed to enjoy it it well enough so, what could I say?

vix
01-26-2009, 04:06 PM
Everyone I know, including myself, who tried to use those "have a heart" traps found that while trying to release the little bastards they tend to bite and scratch and are overall freaking out like crazy in the cage. It's not as easy as the trap maker says it is.

My father used one of those traps to relocate about 50-60 squirrels, he estimates. He said that although they were indeed freaking out in the trap, they never gave him a problem and that he was not nervous about being scratched while releasing them. He said they were terrified; he opened the trap and they ran like hell.

Since the OP may continue to use this method, it may be worth noting that of the many squirrels my father trapped, two died while in the trap.

Jimmy Joe Meager
01-26-2009, 04:43 PM
he opened the trap and they ran like hell.

This was my experience today.

It may be worth noting that of the many squirrels my father trapped, two died while in the trap.

Noted. Thanks.

Altair33
01-26-2009, 05:24 PM
I've used the Havahart traps to relocate dozens of squirrels to the wooded area in a local campus. All relocations went through without incident- at least as far as getting the squirrel into the new location. I do notice, however, that the newly arrived squirrels always rush up a tree, but there's usually another squirrel already in the tree who proceeds to chase the new squirrel away. So I can't vouch for the long-term prospects of the relocated squirrel, but there's only so much sympathy I can manage for a rodent. I figure I'm already cutting him a break by relocating him instead of shooting him.

I personally found that it takes a few months for new squirrels to move into my yard, but my yard may not be the best example since there is a busy street separating my yard from the densest wooded areas. So a squirrel really has to want to get to my yard.

pkbites
01-26-2009, 10:57 PM
My father used one of those traps to relocate about 50-60 squirrels, he estimates. He said that although they were indeed freaking out in the trap, they never gave him a problem and that he was not nervous about being scratched while releasing them.

I'm willing to bet he had an easier time with #60 than he did with the first few.

After using those live traps on 4 or 5 of them I said screw taking them for a freaking ride to the park! There were to many to dick around with that anyway.

My problem was more extreme than the OP's. Squirrels had gotten into our attic where they shit, procreated, made creepy scratching noises, and ripped the hell out of the insulation. A couple got into the walls and died, causing an indescribable stench. The more I killed, the more that seemed to show up. Eventually I used aluminum to fix the area they were eating through to get in. Someone told me to send my cats up to take care of them. Like I needed "Wild Kingdom" going on under my roof.

Anyway, you can see why I hate the little s.o.b.'s!

Magiver
01-27-2009, 12:53 AM
On a par with rabbit, I'd say. Worthwhile if you can economically catch enough. Agree about the taste but not worth the effort to cook. They have less meat on them than a good-sized frog.

I have never had a problem trapping squirrels and Iíve trapped a bunch of them. However, they have to be taken at least 10 miles away to keep them from coming back. If you can put them on the other side of a river then all the better.

Anecdotal story, the last time I trapped one in my chimney it was really dirty so I hosed it off in the cage. It went into shock due to the cold so I ended up blow-drying it back to life. If you've ever seen a wet squirrel you'll understand why people call them fluffy rats.

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